Macon Boasts the Most Historic Preservation Tax Credit Projects in the Nation

Staff Report

Thursday, December 15th, 2022

Main Street America recently announced Macon has completed more historic preservation tax credit projects than any other community in the nation. According to Main Street America’s “Mapping Main Streets” project, 69 historic tax credit projects have been completed in Macon’s Main Street district, which aligns with the Central Business District in downtown Macon. 

Historic tax credits have been the single most transformative financing tool for the revitalization of Macon’s urban core. Qualifying income-producing properties are eligible to freeze their property tax value at the pre-improvement rate for 8.5 years and can receive 25% of their qualified rehabilitation expenses, or QREs, as a state income tax credit and 20% of their QREs as a federal income tax credit. These savings incentivize locals to purchase and rehabilitate eligible historic properties using the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties, ensuring Macon’s historic commercial district and neighborhoods retain their character and charm.

Macon has more historic tax credit projects than any of the 1200 Main Street districts across the country thanks to organizations like NewTown Macon and Historic Macon Foundation who leverage state and federal historic tax credits to make preservation projects financially feasible. Historic Macon Foundation began a tax credit consulting service in 2002 to help local Macon developers save and renovate historic properties. Since that time, Historic Macon Foundation has assisted with 150+ local tax credit applications and has expanded its service area to the entire state of Georgia. Historic Macon has positioned itself as the authority on historic tax credit financing, making it an accessible resource utilized by Macon’s commercial and residential developers and property owners.

“What we’ve learned over the years is that historic tax credits are the engine that drive preservation projects here and across the state,” said Ethiel Garlington, Executive Director of Historic Macon. “They help save historic properties and create hundreds of jobs — during renovation work and afterward. Everyone benefits.” 

NewTown Macon uses state and federal historic tax credit projects to rehabilitate historic downtown structures into mixed-use commercial properties. Since 2015, NewTown has renovated five downtown buildings using historic tax credits, adding over $13.5 million back to Macon-Bibb’s tax roll, creating 66 housing units, and adding 8 storefronts to the downtown market. NewTown also empowers local real estate developers to use historic tax credits in their projects through initiatives like the Developer’s Academy and loan program.

“This accomplishment recognizes something all of us in Macon already know: that we have the hustle, drive, creativity, and know-how to lead our own way to prosperity, and not leave anyone behind,” said Josh Rogers, President & CEO of NewTown Macon. “These credits level the playing field, save architectural treasures, and preserve local ownership.” 

The innovative and pervasive use of historic tax credits has positioned Macon as a preservation leader in the state. Annually, Macon submits as many or more tax credit applications than any other community in Georgia, beating out historic cities like Savannah, Atlanta, Columbus, and Augusta. Main Street America’s mapping project confirms that not only does Macon have one of the strongest preservation ethos in the state of Georgia, but also in the nation. This commitment translates to a substantial economic investment, totaling $97.5 million for the 69 tax credit projects completed in the Central Business District.

“It is exciting to have Macon recognized nationally for something that we in Georgia have known for years; they are a leader in the field of historic tax credits,” said Jessica Worthington, Director of the Office of Downtown Development and Georgia Main Streets within Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs. “While their impact can be quantified through the number of projects completed and the financial investments made, the intangible elements truly set them apart. NewTown Macon and Historic Macon Foundation have shown themselves as leaders in preservation education. From their Developer's Academy to the annual Tour of Progress and educational workshops to rural community site visits, these transformative organizations have shown a commitment to advancing the revitalization and development of downtown Macon and the entire state.”